The Sugababes Discography Rate


Staff member
'Ace Reject' - great song, standout album track, lost single?
'Run For Cover' - The original Suga-ballad...
'Hole In The Head' - Attitude-laden pop genius
'Freak Like Me' - Mash-up of two classics, brought to life in the best way

All worthy winners, so people need to stop whinging about the placements.

I thought the whole point of this rate was for us to whinge about the placements...


Staff member
My favourite Sugababes song is all of them, it's a shapeshifting favourite that cycles between so many different songs. Stronger is one of them. I was moved to tears reading that pinpoint analysis by @beyoncésweave and some of the deeply insightful observations in the commentary by so many people about just why it's such an essential, timeless song. The lyrics are simple. The message is simple. The song is that scrappy, I'm not giving up on anything because I've got me rebuke to the world. It's the defiant frown to fight through a moment of being on the verge of tears. It's determination and an affirmation of all things to do with the self. I listen to it when I'm feeling down and I'm ready to pick myself back up again, specifically, all the time.

That's before you even get into the production (genius), the harmonies (expert level) or the symbolic relevance it will always have in their discography. Re: the music video, @berserkboi's take is what I would agree with and it's well put - they started out as being the antithesis of everything that was going on in the charts at that time, everyone else was doing cheesy pop so they did sullen, mature, cool surf guitars, songs about being dumped at Christmas and being depressed. 2.0 rock up and everyone's doing sexy so they do freaky, visually weird and then in Heidi's scenes in the Stronger video where she's putting clothes back on, it's again a complete rejection of everyone else's go to being to take their clothes off (i.e. the exact opposite of Dirrty, which was released two months before Stronger was). Reject what the majority are doing while singing about relying only on yourself.

It seems super problematic in 2017 when women's rights, equality, "slut shaming" etc is front and centre of so many conversations where it was barely on the radar fifteen years ago, but it was a different time and it was its own self righteous rebellion against what society expected of female popstars so I would hope that it's not tarred with a brush when, really, I think it was intended to be exactly the opposite.

You're in my face, sorry what's your name?

You never seem to wonder

You say yes then I say no

You gotta keep it up now there you go

“Hole In The Head” comes right smack in the middle of the Sugababes’ golden age. It consolidates the remarkable second wind the band had acquired with its immediately preceding singles run and propels it along to the next stage. It does so with such a smoothly confident panache that the anchoring role it performs within the band’s discography – and the band’s popular perception – goes almost unseen. But taken by itself, “Hole In The Head” is an undeniable triumph that possesses groove in spades, both literally – in putting together a genius number of elements to craft a zingingly propulsive affair – and figuratively – in pairing that sonic setup with delivery and a theme that compounds the momentum. The end product is a deliciously smooth, insanely addictive romp that joins the band’s growing number of stellar hits with zero fuss.

Fresh from the success of their earlier collaboration in “Round Round”, Xenomania return for another venture with the Babes. The Three era would be their most productive with the band, producing a total of six tracks, and this might be the crowning glory. From the effort just months prior, Messrs Higgins and Cooper concoct something that somehow improves on it. The first order of business is a less bombastic, more intriguing opening. The sparkling, bubbling synth is an immediate hook onto the brain which becomes even more so when it gets paired in inspired fashion with some insistent acoustic guitar strums. When the beat kicks in after the initial intro, the song explodes into a controlled blaze. Even for the choruses, the backing instrumental doesn’t punch too much above the synth-guitar combo, and yet the song retains this innate momentum that is completely irresistible.

The production details almost mask how the song is immediately more structurally interesting compared to “Round Round”. Whereas that outing was a simpler verse-bridge-chorus arrangement, “Hole In The Head” opts for a more complex getup, going verse 1–bridge–chorus–verse 2–chorus–middle eight–bridge–chorus. It’s one of the first instances of Xenomania kicking it up a gear in terms of their arrangements. Yet even herein, the segments flow into each other without any sharp distinctions. For instance, verse 1 begins with the “seven hours since you went away” line, and after the beat has kicked in continues “seven hours since you closed the door” (this is repeated on verse 2 with another pair of “seven hours” refrains). The same goes for the middle eight, which repeats the “through with it” parts with subtle callout responses, then glides into another segment (“breaking off the day”) before melting into the bridge. The sum of all of this is a smoothing down of the seams so that the whole thing glides like butter, with nary a noticeable joint visible. The four-songs-in-one approach seems a lot less obvious this time around.

Aiding this ease, of course, are the vocals. There’s nothing particularly showy here by the girls, but 2.0’s chameleonic adaptiveness goes into warp drive to latch onto the song’s groove. Mutya on first verse and lead chorus duties is cooly commanding; Heidi taking up the second verse sounds jaded and just about over it; and Keisha makes mincemeat of that extended middle eight, switching registers from talk-singing over the callbacks before sliding a low purr. All three sound jaded and deliciously irritable – a vision of three girls over the phone ridiculing the latest fuckboys to mess with them. Their duelling, nonchalant tones the perfect vehicles to detail the song’s firmly insistent message of self worth, to not settle for the trifling, brief pleasures men present as if they mean the world. The song switches deliriously between that extolment coming both from the self – “just because you made me go ooh, doesn’t mean I’ll put up with you” – and being directed didactically at listeners – “Why d'you cry-y-y, For the guy-y-y, Say goodbye-ye-ye, Run away”. Adding volume to this is a series of lyrical sleights that turn on a very specific kinda domesticity, and comes off as thrillingly evocative as a result. For instance, the opening “Seven hours since you went away, eleven coffees, Rickki Lake on play” and “Seven hours since you closed the door, Started a diet, got a manicure” couplets are genius. You can just imagine Mutya sauntering around her apartment in her trackies the day after breaking it off with her man, idly playing with her bejewelled flip phone, and finally blocking his number with a flash of her freshly painted talons and an irritated smirk.

In selling this sort of derisive confidence, the band consolidates its overall message with frightening potency this time around. It takes the nervous insistence One Touch, channels it through the burgeoning confidence of Angels, and adds this crystallising specificity to that confidence. The message is very much one of being in control of your life, and removing the perfunctory detritus. And lest it be forgotten, this messaging was very much public, being sold through all the band’s singles, and not simply hidden on album tracks (though it was also present there, and not just on album tracks but B-Sides as well – see for example the wonderful companion piece to this “Who” which was indeed the B-Side on this release. I mean, what a package.).

Befitting the band’s golden age, “Hole In The Head” charted at #1, clocking the band’s third chart topper and becoming the second consecutive lead single to do so. It was also a success internationally, reaching #1 in Denmark and within the Top 10 in seven other territories. It is further the band’s most successful effort in the US, charting at #96 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the US Dance Chart. Selling the song was another fantastic video which ratchets up the aesthetic of Angels, and particularly of “Freak Like Me” and “Round Round”. Like the song itself, the video’s vibe is not revolutionary this time around – being a simple girls-find-out-their-rock-band-men-are-cheating-on-them-and-take-appropriate-revenge storyline – but everything is so on point for it to not matter. The art direction is fantastic, with a black, red and amber colour scheme and this grungy incandescence. Then there are the lqqks, Mutya rocking smoky and black eyes with a reverse batman pendant and golden ear shards; Heidi serving red smoky eyes, a reverse part and gold leaf earrings; and Quiche with starfish lashes and black cassette tape headband; and all three in grimy goth bustiers, tops and tanks, with flashes of lace, net and chains. They sell the hell out of it with the exact level of tongue-in-cheek brazenness the song demands.

In the rate, “Hole In The Head” started at #3 and slowly crept up until it clinched the #1 spot at the 40 voter mark. It held that for a further 20 voters before slowly slipping further and further behind and ending up at #4. I was somewhat glad to see it vacate the top of the leaderboard, because as distinctive and perfect and representative of the band as the song is, it personally doesn’t sit with me as the Sugababes song, whereas all three remaining songs have a much better case for that title. It’s really not the song’s own fault as there are really no substantive grounds for the song to be critiqued on; it’s simply the case that the rest of the band’s output is so stellar. If it appears as somehow a lesser effort than it is, it’s only in comparison to the band’s numerous other towering efforts. It may not have the same first, inventive thrill of “Freak Like Me” or the sheer bombast of “Round Round” which came before, or dial up the sexy cheekiness to the same degree “Push The Button” would. Personally, it’s one of their top tier efforts I’m most likely to forget exists, its groovy smoothness somehow working in its disfavour to render it not as memorable. Yet equally, it’s one of those songs that I never skip; the same groove hooking me in each time. But what a groove. And in presiding over it so nonchalantly, imperiously and effortlessly – what a band.

Solenciennes (10) waxes lyrical, “this song is so brilliantly wacky, sassy and addictive in equal measure. The live performances are always great fun to watch with the half assed choreography somehow being better than anything their teeny bopper counterparts were breaking out on Top Of The Pops every week, they just keep switching positions and do a bit of armography, so in other words dance like The Saturdays, but the beat’s so infectious that it somehow works, there’s no letting up. The music video combined the best bits of “Freak Like Me” and “Round Round”, they hit their stride with this song and it was the perfect lead single for their third album.” Keep me on your radar, keep me keep me keep me on the raaadar, says kal (10) “This is the one that put Sugababes on my radar. It’s a more polished sound compared to their older album launchers, but the rock chic video grounds it pretty well. Mutya owns everything about this.”

Lost In Japan. (10) finds it “So demented. So sassy. Only they could have released a song like this and sent it to #1.” Runawaywithme (9) agrees that it’s “a slice of pop perfection, I love queen Mutya’s opening lines where she really sounds like she has no fucks to give. Her deadpan pissed off sounding delivery really contrasts with the fizzy exciting background when it really kicks off, it’s one of the strange contrasts that really made the Sugababes stand out back in the day and make strange yet beautiful pop moments. The pre chorus should sound silly and crappy but here it somehow sounds cool. It shouldn’t work but it does.”

“Still such a bop and one of Xenomania’s best” declares Deborux (9). Meanwhile tylerc904 (10) dares to shade a bunch of other (better) Xeno-Sugbops, “The video, much like the song, is fabulous. I love everything Xenomania did with the babes, but this may be the best of their collaborations.” Remorque (10) recalls being smacked in the face with this, “These girls definitely had something to say here (I’m betting Keisha did the most, I remember her telling in an interview) and boy, did they… This is full of sass and attitude, the girls sound cool as fuck and it’s on in-yer-face you can’t help but feel along with all three. I remember being gobsmacked by this, because of how much I fucking loved everything about. It also started my favourite era, so I’m always going to be biased, but hey ho…” Filler (9) has a lil Wikipedia kii, “This article is about the Sugababes song. For the 1959 film, see A Hole In The Head. For the fish disease, see Head and lateral line erosion.” Sprockrooster (10) has their eyes open for the video, “Anthem for a lifetime. And can I say I totally love their makeup and nails in this video.” ohnostalgia (10) replenishes her girl power supplies, “’Better fill your head up like I told you’ is that girl power moment I didn’t know I needed. They are such queens.”

Ironheade (10) is a sucker for a good bassline, and this had him hewked, “That bassline. Yep, we have a 10 on our hands already. It really is a heck of a bassline, though - bubbly and light-hearted, but propulsive and strong, with just the right balance of synthetic and organic in its tone. In less skilled hands, this really could have sounded too busy, between the layers of aquatic synth, the clattering woodblock percussion in the background and the sharp strikes of acoustic guitar, but it gets the benefit of a bright, hard mix that keeps everything sharp as a newly-ironed shirt, never losing sight of the steel-barbed hooks. The vocals are superb, too, exemplifying all that makes the Sugababes such great singers. Mutya’s impeccable phrasing and irreproducible honeyed-gravel tone, Keisha’s powerfully charismatic, uber-cool belt, Heidi’s charmingly untrained instrument and contrasting ability to express a surprising amount with it, all three are present and correct in this crash course in what made them the greatest girl group of the 21st century.” Mmm yas.

VivaForever (10) dares to say the I word, “every part of this is, dare I say, iconic. That iconique fuck-you breakup anthem.” On a different tack, “A classic, all guns blazing, pop classic,” coos MrJames (9). Mina (10) also raises the C Word, “Classic Sugababes.” CasuallyCrazed (10) goes the furthest with this, calling it “One of the best crafted pop songs of all time, this deserved to become a timeless classic alongside “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Living on a Prayer”.” berserkboi (10) chimes in that it’s an “Amazing song with a fantastic dirty beat and a glorious grungy video. It is probably more loved by others here than by me but still a terrific song all these years later. Could you imagine this song stripped down? Wonder what that would sound like...” Unfortunately, this is one of the few upbeat Sugabops to not receive the acoustic treatment, though I suspect Mutya wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face for through Keisha’s middle eight slowed down.

Robinho#1 (10) throws a different accolade at it, “Incredible and by far their best lead single. Ricki Lake was the shit back in the day. How I long for the messy 90’s talk shows.” Their best lead single is still in the game tho, hee. xondus (8) backs me up, “Not their strongest lead single, to me it’s missing that extra something, and the chorus is a it flat. But it’s still a damn good track.” roux (8.5) also appears to spill some tea, “As good as it is, it feels a bit a low fat version of ‘Freak Like Me’.” Mmh.

DJHazey (10) diagnoses the clinically insane, “Nobody in their right mind is denying those melodies. No way, no how! Mutya & Keisha’s opening verses are perfection and there’s always a slight drop off when Heidi takes over, but that all is made well as soon as that chorus starts up again. Definitely the kind of front-runner I will be pulling for.” But hewm to pull for with the remaining three? londonrain (9.5) is the latest to chime in with their partners’ Sugatastes, “This is my husband’s favourite Sugababes track (he’d ignored them up to this point). Matches “Round Round” stylistically but has the punch to work as a lead single.” Constantino (10) is on a permanent state of shewk, “On first [RE]listen I was a tad disappointed at this for not quite ~popping off~ like I thought I did…two days later I am SHOOK. There’s a certain maturity and confidence present here that makes this SUCH a game changer in discography. I especially live for the lyrics, which are among the best of any girlband single ever. The hooks are a bit subtler but when they hit you, THEY FUCKING HIT HARD (like a hole in the head)…I’ll see myself out…” Do.

Chanex (7) clearly has a hole in their head, “’s good but like a lesser Push The Button to me. Great title and chorus tho.” That is about the most mismatched comparison you could make to this. Much like Queen Gilda from The Real Housewives of Auckland, Blayke (10) is, for once, a succinct minx, lauding the song in a way that makes ha lily white costars shewk, “The reasoning for a 10 for this song is pretty self-explanatory. What a monster of a pop song! All of the girls bring their thing (and edge ha!) to the song and it really works.” acl (10) reveals something special, “The song and the video are perfect. Watching it back then was the first time I wished I could be a Sugababe.” And not the only time, I suspect.

uno (10) has a lot to thank this song for, and pins this up as their Sugaintroduction, “This was the first song that introduced me into the world of Sugababes. I remember I was 10 years old and it being on MTV in 2003 - wondering who the hell these beautiful bad ass women were (mind you, I live in the US and this was the first time ever even hearing about them). This song and Fefe Dobson’s ‘Take Me Away’ were played on MTV literally every single night and my sister and I were so obsessed – we’d jump on the bed and lip-sync to them every time they came up on the TV. I never ever saw/heard of the Sugababes after that and it wasn’t until 2007 where I rediscovered them when I heard “About You Now” playing in a Foot Locker, and dived into their entire discography and re-started my obsession with them. Damn, what great memories this song brings back!”

We dial a smidgeon back on the 11s, at six (from seven previously). Queen of sprawling rates (go vote in the Janet Jackson one now!) P’NutButter uses a simple but pleasing rhyming pentameter to express his love, “One of the best girl group songs ever, and the lyrics are still killer.” PCDPG has a bunch of very good reasons for giving this their 11, “My 11 goes to this song. It may not be their best song lyrically, sonically or their best music video. However for me, this is the essence of the Sugababes. I remember absolutely loving this song. I loved how sassy they looked and didn’t care what anyone thought of them. Over ten years later and I still play this song all the time. Probably one of the songs I’ve loved since I was younger. Truly one of my favourite songs ever. Because of this song, I’ve bought my very first CD (Three).” Finally, cryctall runs out of perfects to describe it but adds that last pinch of salt that makes a painstakingly tempered and assiduously cooked dahl come alive, “Perfect song. Perfect pop song. Perfect girl group song. Perfect Sugababes song. When it first came out in 2003, I recorded it on a cassette from the radio. Not just that, I recorded it at the end of Side A and then at the beginning of Side B, so I could listen to it over and over again on my portable cassette player. How happy I was! When I think of a perfect song, I think of this. Perfect uptempo song, perfect lead single - everything is great about. 13 years later it’s still fresh and energetic. I love the unusual song structure. The intro is pure gold. Sugababes defining track.” Mmmh.​

I’m gonna break my non-original lineup rule for this utterly bonkers and amazing performance, which is further ridiculous given the scenario. Think about this next time you’re at the gym, hennies.

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Im a bit sad Hole In The Head just missed Top 3 allthough in my personal book Overload, Freak, Push The Button, About You Now and Girls are slightly higher as lead singles